As the popularity of electronic cigarettes and calls to regulate them continue to grow, a University of Michigan study may help answer those who wonder what changes might be seen in smoking prevalence if e-cigarette use encourages smokers to quit, or if it becomes a first step toward smoking.
Using national data of historic and current rates of smoking, statistics on the growth of e-cigarette use and a simulation model, School of Public Health researchers found that smoking prevalence would be much more sensitive to the possible changes e-cigarettes could have on quit rates than on their potential to encourage those who never have smoked to start a habit.
Among the scenarios, the simulation showed that a 20-percent increase in smoking cessation rates would result in a 6-percent reduction in smoking by 2060.
On the other hand, smoking initiation would have to increase 200 percent over current levels for smoking rates to go up by 6 percent in the same year.
"This paper is important because it gives us a reference for what could be the net impact of e-cigarette use on smoking prevalence, and for the most part, with the status quo, the key point is what they do for cessation," said lead author Sarah Cherng, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology and the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health at the School of Public Health.
"Our research is not going to silence the debate, but perhaps the discussion can be shifted to how we can think about the best policies and regulations to make e-cigarettes useful as smoking cessation tools."
The study is published in the journal
Source: MedicalXpress (26 April 2016) Reference: 110845